Nick Lowe & His Cowboy Outfit / Nick Lowe

Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit

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The title isn't entirely in jest -- Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit does represent Lowe's reinvention as a roots-rocker, as he delves into Tex-Mex, country-rock, garage rock and, of course, pop. After the muddled The Abominable Showman, Cowboy Outfit sounds positively vibrant, thanks in no small part to Lowe's backing band, comprised largely of veteran pub-rockers. The songs are also more consistently memorable, from the Farfisa-driven "Half a Boy and Half a Man" to the sublime covers of Mickey Jupp's "You'll Never Get Me Up in One of Those" and Sandie Shaw's "Breakaway." The rest of the album's pleasures, however, are subtle. "Maureen" and "God's Gift to Women" are charming yet slight, and the songs become increasingly lightweight as the album approaches its close. Even with the uneven songs, the Cowboy Outfit make the material appealing, and Lowe certainly sounds more appealing -- and comfortable -- as a roots-rocker than as an aging new wave popster.

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